Summary: Love varies with the persons we love and our relationship to them.
Love in Bloom
1. Family love is unique but challenging. From Reader’s Digest, we read, It’s every airplane passenger’s nightmare -- getting stuck near a crying baby. I was manning the ticket counter at a busy airport when the sound of a sobbing infant filled the air. As the next passenger stepped up to the desk, he glanced at the tot and rolled his eyes. "Don’t worry," I said to him cheerily. "Chances are that baby won’t be on your flight."
Head shaking, he grimly replied, "Oh, I bet he will. That’s my son." -- Debbie Williams
2. Although we love our infants, toddlers, beginners, primaries, juniors, junior highs and teens, our love for our kids feels different because they are different and we are different.
Main Idea: Love varies with the persons we love and our relationship to them.
I. MID-RANGE Love
A. EXTENDED family
Then there is the love between siblings. Proverbs 17:17 is often misinterpreted, in my view, to teach the concept of sibling rivalry. I understand it to teach that brothers can be leaned upon during difficult times. ("A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.") We can call this a SUPPORTING LOVE or perhaps "a love of reliance."
B. CHURCH brothers and sisters
Church ought to be a heavenly experience
My friend Agnes is an accomplished harpist who frequently plays for weddings, receptions, parties and other such events. She is also blond and has an appropriately cherubic face. She was on her way to an engagement at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, and stepped into an elevator with her large golden harp. Just before the doors closed, a distinguished gray-haired man stepped on. As the elevator rose, he looked thoughtfully first at her and then her harp and asked, "And just how far up are you going?" (Reader’s Digest, Margaret B. Ellis, Mobile, Ala.)
1. Church can be an ego/agenda driven experience, like the Corinthian Church
• everyone trying to get attention
• confusion and chaos
I Corinthians 11:17, "In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good."
2. Or church meetings can be a time of building-up
I Corinthians 8:1, "Knowledge [w/out love] makes arrogant, but love edifies"
3. I Corinthians 13:1-13 was written to address love in a church fellowship context:
[vs. 1-3 -- serving God and "spirituality" does not excuse us from showing love]
"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
[vs. 4-7 -- what love looks like]
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
[vs. 8-13 -- the permanence of love]
"Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."
Some Christians do not think that the rules of love and honesty imply during a church conflict -- they believe they have permission to be cruel and vindictive!
• David and Jonathan
• The love of camaraderie
• Variety of friends from very close to casual
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, "Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.
Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone?
And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart."